Change Your Conversation, Change Your Organisation
by Denise Wright
May 18, 2022
Article Review by Susanne Burgstaller - Austria
I believe that any SF consultant working on organisational change could take Denise´s SF process design as a role model. Its outcome brilliantly demonstrates how building a collaborative culture is central to organisational excellence and how well the marriage of SF and collaborative large group methods can work, if done well.
What are some of the things that make it a “model SF process design”, in my opinion?
I particularly liked the way Denise built a solid platform in stage one, going through the whole SF process several times with different groupings. Not only did she work with the Senior Management Team (SMT). she also included a representative sample of her target group with “best-hopes” – interviews right from the start. These interviews, if done well, can have the effect of SF “micro – coaching” and already begin to foster change. The outcomes were fed back to the SMT to build an even broader contract that included not only their, but also the perspectives of staff members on the preferred future.
I completely agree with Denise that group methods for strategic collaboration, such as the World Café or Open Space Technology, are a perfect fit within an SF process for large groups. Of course, they need to be combined with simple, purposeful and well-crafted SF questions, such as in this case. When done right they could be a staple component in any SF OD repertoire.
I liked the way she followed through with coaching initiatives for the management teams in various constellations in stage 3. This is so essential to maintain momentum and ensure that the top team are able to implement and role model what they initially envisaged. And how happy she must have been to be able to gather the whole system in one room again to celebrate their good results and plan above and beyond what they originally set out to do. I feel the outcome speaks for itself in terms of the effectiveness of the whole approach.
One more aspect that I found interesting was her mention of focusing on building “a new, more conscious organisational culture”, both for individuals and teams. I have also noted that sometimes helping people become more aware of what they want and what they are actually doing is all it takes for them to change. It sounds so simple, and yet we all know it is not easy!
The only regret I have reading this inspiring case is that I cannot compliment Denise on it and ask her some of my many, “how did you…” questions. She is undoubtedly an SF practitioner to remember and to learn from.
Dr. Susanne Burgstaller Better organisations – better lives usolvit consultants GmbH Arabellagasse 1, A-1230 Vienna e: email@example.com t: +43-1-8889780 m: +43-664-2525810 skype: susanne.burgstaller1 www.usolvit.com
We would like to thank Routledge, the publishers of the book “Solution Focused Practice in Asia”, for permission to publish Denise’s original article in this edition of InterAction. We also much appreciate Debbie Hogan, co-editor of the book, who sought that permission.